The one thing every driver knows about driving is that anything can happen. Maybe you’ve seen the tire of the car in front you take off and bounce along the highway as the car on three wheels skids to a halt. Maybe you’ve been behind a truck hauling trash and piece of metal flies out narrowly missing your car. If you’ve driven any length of time, you have your own stories to tell.
Driver safety blogger Alex Perdikis is quick to point out that no matter how safe your car, you can still find yourself in a frightening situation. Here are three driving hazards to be aware of and what to do when they happen to you.
- Blown Tire
Because tires are manufactured at higher standards now, tire blow-outs are less likely to happen than they were a just a few years ago. They do, however, still occur. A blown tire will cause your car to veer toward the side of the bad tire. Here’s what you should and what you shouldn’t do when you’re faced with a blown tire:
- Don’t hit the brakes. Hitting the brakes is probably going to be your first reaction, but doing so causes you to veer more. You could lose control.
- Focus on steering your car. You’ll be tempted to over correct. Keep your eyes focused on and steer toward the direction you need to go.
- Gradually slow down. Slowing down won’t be too much of a problem. The blown tire will help.
- Bad Weather
Mother Nature is always in control. Weather forecasts are only accurate some of the time. Winter driving, rain storms and fog all present unique driving challenges. Here are some tips for dealing with hazardous driving conditions:
- Be prepared. Always have an emergency kit in your vehicle regardless of the forecast. Check your tires, wipers and lights to make sure they work before heading out. If your car is covered in snow or ice, take the time to clear it off all windows, the roof, hood and trunk lid. Charge your cellphone beforehand and by all means take it with you. Do not use it while driving.
- Use the appropriate skid response. As soon as you realize you’re in a skid, look and steer toward your intended path no matter which tires are affected. If you experience a front tire skid, ease up on the accelerator as you steer toward the right path. If it’s a rear tire skid, avoid using the brakes.
- Counter steer with care. You do want to steer in the direction you want to go, but you also have to be aware that fishtailing can occur. Be ready to counter steer quickly.
- Give yourself extra time. Bad weather means slowing down. Driving too fast for conditions puts you and your passengers at risk. It’s better to be late than not get there at all.
- Beware of the fog. Fog can be the ultimate bad weather driving challenge. Sometimes you can see, other times you may as well have a blindfold over your eyes. To increase visibility in fog, turn on your low-beam headlights. Slow down. Use your windshield wipers to keep moisture off and increase visibility. If it’s legal in your state, use emergency flashers as you drive so drivers behind you can see you.
- Wildlife in the Road
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wildlife/vehicle collisions cost a billion dollars worth of damage every year. If a deer or other type of wildlife is on the road in front of you or getting ready to run across, blast your horn, hit your brakes, try not to swerve and do your best to stay in your lane. With any luck, both you and the deer will go on your merry way unscathed.